Thursday, August 6, 2009

Undefeated? Or is it a Promise?

Andrea Adelson, of the Orlando Sentinel, asks the question which will be a greater legacy for Tebow: to go undefeated or the Promise?

Tebow's "promise" speech would indicate that it was his goal to go undefeated last year, so it stands to reason that it is the goal of the team this year.

But what is the appeal of the "promise"? Even though it is anecdotal, Gators in Gainesville seem divided on it.

First, should it have ever been made? For those of us who came of age during the Spurrier era, the Ol' Ball Coach addressed the media, not his QB. When the Gators lost, Spurrier took the blame because he was the head coach. Maybe its old school, but why was Tebow even allowed to address the media after the Ole Miss loss?

Even a little more disconcerting was Urban Meyer's most recent comments to ESPN, stating that he heard about it the next day, that he was "skeptical" and worried that Tebow would become a "joke" if the team lost one or two more games.

Instead the "promise" rallied the team, and as we all know, the Gators became the 2008 BCS Champs.

In a way, it speaks of Meyer's trust and faith inTebow to let him address the media after such a crushing loss, but was it prudent? Doesn't matter now, but should it be a cautionary tale for players after Tebow?

And then there is the plaque outside the entrance to the Heavener Football Complex. Memorial plaques are generally placed after a player graduates, or passes away, which makes the posting of the plaque not only awkward, but also a bit creepy. But on the other hand, why wait? How many of us have said or heard some one wish they had said what they felt before some one was "gone" to tell them what we thought of them? So, maybe it is a step in the right direction.

The other side is that the "promise" has already become not only a part of Gator history, but seems to be becoming a part of college football lore. The promise, and Tebow's heartfelt transparency, not only inspired his teammates, but also the coach and team which dealt the blow.

Coach Houston Nutt still draws inspiration from it, and has it on his desk for easy reference:

"What I love about Tim Tebow, not only does he make the promise — he carries it out and he puts his team on his back," Nutt said at SEC Media Days. "I have the words he spoke to the media, I have that on my desk. I read it to my team once. I have an awesome respect for that."
Tebow seems uncomfortable with the promise however:
"I didn't think it would become what it became," Tebow said at SEC Media Days. "I wasn't even thinking about that too much after the game. I just know I was upset, heartbroken. Just felt like I let my teammates down, my coaches, the fans. I wanted to let them know ultimately that something good was going to come out of this. But I didn't think it would have this much hype, no."

But what effect does it have on the next generation of players and kids? Instead of looking up to a player only to be disappointed by his bad behavior, or worse want to emulate their favorite player's bad behavior, they see a guy deliver on working hard and reaping the benefits of it.

Just seeing these kids read the promise and then catch a glimpse of their hero is proof of the upside of the promise.

An undefeated season would solidify Tebow as one of the greatest college football players to take the field, but as stated by Mick in the video, it may be "more important to be nice."